Gilmore furious with Kenny over RTE 'exclusion'
Published 18/01/2014 | 02:30
Mr Gilmore was furious that he was the only party leader not to be afforded the opportunity to address the nation on RTE TV before Christmas.
Mr Kenny addressed the nation on December 15 as Ireland emerged from the bailout. His televised message was followed by a response from other parties during the following days.
But Labour, as part of the governing coalition, did not have a slot to deliver their own message.
However, the issue only came to a head during a private meeting between the pair earlier this week.
Sources say Mr Kenny was "taken aback" after being told of Mr Gilmore's deep dissatisfaction about not being included in the round of broadcasts.
The Tanaiste insisted that any future leaders' addresses must involve him, and that he felt excluded from the process.
Labour figures said last night that a "compromise" should have been struck which would have resulted in speaking time being carved up between both Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore.
"He is the Tanaiste of the country and the leader of one of the biggest parties -- there was no reason why a compromise could not have been made. He had to stand his ground on this one," said a Labour source.
"Gerry Adams, Micheal Martin and Shane Ross all got speaking time," the source added.
Mr Kenny is understood to have accepted Mr Gilmore's position, but said he did not have a role in deciding how to approach the addresses.
Fine Gael ministers were surprised that the broadcast became such a bone of contention for Mr Gilmore during the first week back since the Christmas break.
"We didn't expect there to be any tensions this week but it became clear on Tuesday that Gilmore was not happy about the issue of the debate and raised it directly with Kenny," a minister said.
"It's clear this issue was brewing all over Christmas and finally came to a head between the pair," the source added.
Despite the dissatisfaction expressed by Mr Gilmore, Labour is insisting this week that confidence is growing among members ahead of the local and European elections.
The party is expecting to lose a raft of council seats and possibly its two MEP positions. However, initial forecasts of an election bloodbath are now being downplayed.
As previously revealed by the Irish Independent, senior figures within Fine Gael have raised the prospect of agreeing a vote pact with Labour during the campaign.
While no formal arrangement has been put in place yet, ministers believe a vote pact will be agreed in the coming weeks.